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Italian Cold Cut Subs?

  • b

I bit into an Italian Cold Cut Sub from Mama Luccia's in Rockville on Saturday with much anticipation. Unfortunately, I was severely let down. It seems despite good pizza and pasta, this is not a sandwich place.

The roll may not have been condsidered stale, but it certainly had no chew. The meats and cheeses were not traditional mortadella and provolone, and had very little taste besides. The lettuce was whole romaine leaves, and the tomatoes were thick slices of roma tomatoes, when I was expecting chopped iceberg lettuce and thin slices of beefsteaks. But worst of all, it came with a Balsamic(!) dressing on the side! Not to mention no onions, no oregano, no hot peppers, no dripping olive oil. I hate to admit that I've had one from Jerry's Sub Shop, but I have, and even it was a lot better than Saturday's. Maybe I just wouldn't know a good one if I had it?

Where does one go for a good Italian Hoagie in Maryland or the District? Does Vace serve a good one?

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  1. Two years or so ago the Post did a feature in their Wednesday issue where they ate cold cut subs from about 15 or so places around the area. The one they picked as their favorite was The Italian Store at Spout Run and Rt. 29 near Cherrydale. I went the next day and thought it was very good. But not Philadelphia or Atlantic City White House great. Italia delicatessen in Silver Spring used to make a great "real" cold cut sub using a roll from Catania bakery on North Capitol St. But ownership there has changed and I don't know if it's still the same. Vace in Bethesda and Connecticut Avenue also used to use the Catania roll. If they still do this is a great sub. I'm just not certain that they do.
    There are a number of places around the area including an Italian deli (name?) on Pennsylvania Avenue near 12th St., S. E., another across from the Eastern Market about a block in from PA., S. E., Cenan's in Vienna off of 123 and in the Plaza of the Americas shopping center in Reston. All of these are good. But none of them have truly great bread to base their subs on. If Catania is still in business whoever uses them, with the right cold cuts, cheese and dressing, has the potential for a great sub.
    The world standard is still the White House Sub Shop at Mississippi and Artic in Atlantic City whose rolls come from Rando's and the Atlantic City bakery. A double meat White House special with hots and extra oil. Must be lunch time.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Joe H.

      Mastellone"s in Baltimore on Harford Road between Taylor and Northern Parkway makes a great cold cut sub, and is simply a good resource to know about. The quality of bread and cold cuts is superb. Call ahead and ask if Tim will be there, he has the surest hand with the condiments. Also, Cannella's Deli, again on Harford Road, but outside the beltway has awesome subs, not only the cold cut options. And I've heard great things about Apicella's in Little Italy (of all places) but I can't vouch from personal experience.
      DB.

      1. re: Dave B.

        Ditto on the White House in AC. The pinnacle of sub sandwhiches in the Mid Atlantic region, and yes, a lot of it is in the bread. The cheesesteaks there are A+ as well, not the same as in Phila, but very good.

        1. re: J Stevens

          After having heard raves about the White House in AC I ate there, and it was certainly good, the bread WAS good. But the cold cuts were standard, off-the-truck American versions of cold cuts. My parents can get better quality in the local grocery store in Boston. (I admit, it's difficult to find decent Italian cold cuts in the Mid-Atlantic, but much much harder in the Twin Cities.)

          Please, folks, the "world standard" is different for everyone, and if I'm ordering a sub, I want good cold cuts on a good roll, not just mediocre salami, no matter how good the roll. I got much better cold cuts at some new Italian place that had just opened up in Atlantic City.

          I personally like the hard roll subs at Littari's where you can pick the quality of your meats if you have the time, or just grab one out of the refrigerator case...And one of my new places to frequent is a little Italian bakery on Wisconsin...good bread although the cold cut selection varies from weekend to weekend.

          1. re: Jenjamin

            Does Litteri's use a roll from Catania?
            As for the White House I don't think anyone has ever focused on the overall quality of the salami, mortadella, etc. It's the overall taste of the sub. Using the same roll they do I could probably make a better sub myself especially if I used "vintage" first pressing olive oil as well as the best cold cuts I can find. But the White House, for most, makes an incredible cold cut sub in part because of the bread and in part because they use a LOT of oil. (Note: when they make a cheesesteak they SQUIRT OIL ON IT; very few places do that.)
            I continue to mention Catania. If someone took a Catania hard roll, scooped out the interior bread with two fingers(which the White House and a lot of Philly places do.) and used a collection of good cold cuts and cheese, very thin spanish onion slices, good tomatoes (using fresh homegrown tomatoes in the summer which they do), leaf lettuce, about four or five tablespoons of, say, Badia Coltibuono olive oil with a little bit of good red wine vinegar, oregano, basil and freshly chopped bottled cherry peppers then you would have a sub in D. C. that might equal the White House. (The one thing you won't have is the 70 year old man in the white "wifebeater" T shirt at the Atlantic City Bakery baking the bread under a lone, hanging lightbulb in front of the 50 year old oven. Of course like A. C. you would have to have someone, once an hour, carrying a big grocery bag or two full of warm sub rolls up the street for you to use.)
            Would you pay up to $10.00 for this 8" sub? That's probably what it would cost.
            Sorry, but the White House is regarded by everyone from Philadelphia Magazine to Jerry Lewis (who has their subs flown in for his annual telethon) to Zagat (a 26 food rating, equal to the highest in A. C.), to even the Beatles who ate their subs on their first American visit in '64 (photos are on the wall) to Elizabeth Taylor who had them flown to Rome (!) when she made Cleopatra to "Frank" who has a letter behind the cashier's stand calling them the best.
            I won't argue with the Beatles or "Frank." As for "Liz" as least she has the consolation of having invested wisely in the calories she consumed on the way to building her weight up.
            Funny though, I've seen similar letters from "Frank" at Pat's and up the street at The Saloon which is arguably Philly's best Italian restaurant.

        2. re: Dave B.

          On downtown Baltimore's west side, Trinacria's. Nice bread, good and lots of meat. Order the one with muffaletta spread.

        3. re: Joe H.

          There are a number of places around the area including an Italian deli (name?) on Pennsylvania Avenue near 12th St.,...

          Mangialiardos is the deli you're thinking of. They've been around for decades and is the home of the G Man Sub: ham, provolone, genoa salami. Only open during weekdays until 3pm, but there's always a line of cops and fireman. Cheap too.

          1. re: WG

            I went today from lunch from downtown. Quite a trip on the orange line to get there. BTW, it is spelled Mangialardos and it's between 13th and 14th on Penn, closest metro is Potomac Avenue. Fast service and a nice sandwich, but I really didn't think it was The One. Honestly, I've had a better sandwich at Eatzi's.

          2. re: Joe H.

            The place on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE is Mangialardo's. It's only open from 8-3, or something like that, on weekdays. Their Italian sub is called the G-Man - hard or soft roll, sweet or hot peppers. I haven't been there in a while but they are wonderful (and I'm from NYC - I practically teethed on Italian subs!)

            1. re: Nancy

              Back in RI, a good sign for Italian subs is a sub shop that has bags of rolls sitting out front, leaning against the door, that had been delivered that morning by a local baker.

              I've only seen that at a few places around here. I should do some empirical testing to see if there is any correlation.

          3. The best Italian sub I've had in this area was at
            Giolitti's Delicatessen in Annapolis (2068 Somerville Road). They have wonderful imported Italian meats and cheeses and delicious crusty bread. They also sell a variety of entrees, pizzas, desserts, etc - everything I've had from there has been delicious.

            The best Italian sub I've had in Rockville is at Giuseppi's on N. Washington St. The meats and cheeses are not imported, but they're pretty good and they heat the sandwich, which is nice. It doesn't even come close to Giolitti's, but it sounds like it's better than what you had a Mama Lucia's.

            Also, there is a Potbelly Sandwich shop opening soon in Rockville by the Regal Theater. I haven't had this before, but apparently it's a chain from Chicago that is supposed to have good Italian subs (among other things). We'll see. Has anyone had any experience with this place?

            1. One more suggestion (but I don't know the name of the place) --

              way up on Connecticut in Chevy Chase, MD (after East-West Highway) in the same little strip as the Einstein Bagel and the Starbucks that serves a good Italian sub.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Susan

                Thanks Susan. I think that place may be called Marcello's? It's right in my neighborhood, but I had forgotten all about it. Have you eaten anything else there? Was it good? Pizza? I drive by there all the time but have never heard anything good or bad.

              2. f
                FluffyGreyCat

                The Italian Store in Arlington is fabulous. Excellent cold cuts, great bread, and a fabulous dressing.

                1. Trattori Anne Marie on Light Street in Federal Hill (Baltimore). Has fabulous Italian Subs made with imported meats and cheeses on delicious rolls. Make sure to order "the real Giuseppe".

                  1. I'm by no means an Italian Cold Cut connoisseur, but I've always enjoyed the cold cut sub at Dipasquale's--the Highlandtown location in Baltimore; I don't know much about the version in Pikesville other than people have expressed reservations about it.

                    1. Any of these places still around? It was a real treat
                      to get an Italian sub after church from Eddie's at Thomas Circle. They were big, nasty and delicious.
                      The onions alone would clear you a seat on the bus.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                        Eddie Leonard's is long gone. But if we're going back 30 years or more do you remember the ORIGINAL Jerry's Sub Shop on University Boulevard in Wheaton? It was owned by a couple named Max and ? and was totally different from what the chain serves today. (They actually bought it from another couple.) Their roast beef sub with garlic flavored mayonnaise/ketchup and hot peppers which they mixed with pickle juice (yes, !) was one of the best subs I've ever had anywhere. Onions for their "steak and cheese" would cook on the grill literally all day long. About ten years ago a friend of mine told me that after they sold Jerry's they moved to St. Petersburg and opened another sub shop serving similar food. I never confirmed this but I would kill for one of their original roast beef subs!
                        Trivia questions of the day:
                        1. Who was Jerry's named for?
                        2. Where was the original (i.e. first location) Jerry's Sub Shop located?

                        1. re: Joe H.

                          Has it really been that long ago? Ah, me...
                          Next you're gonna tell me that Lefty is no longer
                          manning the grill at Mario's on Wilson Blvd., lashing out the steak'n cheese and egg'n pepper subs. Or, that
                          Bill is no longer overloading the Spicy Italian, Beef
                          Trust, B&O and Brown Pig (named in honor of the Falls
                          Church Police Dept.) subs at the Fairfax Deli on Lee
                          Hwy.

                      2. I am surprised that there has been no mention of Va-Ce's italian sub....in the early days, they made them fresh to order--a generous, but not overwhelming portion of good Italian "salume", some cheese, a splash of olive oil and hot peppers--all on a fresh Catania roll. That was eating...if they were out of sub rolls, they would cut up a regular loaf and make the sandwich that way.

                        It is hard to get them made to order now....they make a bunch every morning and have them ready in white deli wrapping paper...but when they were fresh, they were great.

                        Jim Zurer
                        Washington DC

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Jim Zurer

                          Jim, do they still use the same Catania roll? I haven't been there or the original Italia in Silver Spring in a few years but that was a great sub. I actually remember in the late '70's arguing with one of the partners at Italia (then he seemed old! Now he would seem young, real young!) that lettuce, onions and tomatoes belonged on a sub. He didn't speak English very well but he knew the word "crazy" to tell me that I didn't know what I was talking about!
                          He was right! I could be wrong but I think he and his wife started the Bethesda store which in turn led to the one on Connecticut Avenue.

                          1. re: Joe H.

                            They definitely still use Catania rolls for their sandwiches....

                            We used to make the trek down to North Capitol Street and New York Ave NW to buy the bread at its source. The bakery is still operational I believe....

                            But the appearance of Marvelous Market in my neighborhood put an end to the necessity of traveling for great bread.

                            Jim Zurer
                            Washington DC